Thursday, May 16, 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness Review: Where no man has gone before, except in the previous film I suppose...
Dir. J.J. Abrams
J.J. god damn Abrams. He's probably made billions of dollars, has dozens of TV shows with his name slapped on the front of it, and now he's at the helm of the two biggest sci-fi properties of all time. I don't know whose dick this guy's sucking to get these gigs, but it's certainly the right one. I'm barely familiar with the Star Trek mythology and I personally wasn't a huge fan of Abram's Star Trek reboot in 2009 (I'm definitely in the minority there). It's not that I didn't think it was any good, it was just exactly what you would expect and nothing more. Just a hero's journey wrapped up in a ton of space fights and explosions. It was solid enough. But the thing that got me excited for the sequel, and this may be controversial, was that Damon Lindelof was writing the screenplay. It seems in the nerd world Lindelof inspires either a lot of love or a lot of ravenous hate, but I think he's an amazing writer. Lost is one of my favorite TV shows of all time and I appreciated the finale, and I even thought Prometheus was one of the best movies last summer despite all the hate it received. And it wasn't just a simple "eh, I didn't care for that film" - people legitimately got violent and angry over that film. Lindelof writes challenging material filled with philosophy and humanity, and isn't afraid to trek into non-convention. But Star Trek Into Darkness, as serviceable a Trek film as it is, still suffers from the "vanilla sci-fi" I experienced the first time around.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Dir. Baz Luhrmann
I have to admit: I used Sparknotes in high school. I never really made it all the way through the original F. Scott Fitzgerald book, and I'm unsure if that's because it truly was boring, or if I just wasn't cultured enough to sit through it. The Great Gatsby is one of those iconic stories that's never had a great film attached to it, though many have tried. Now Baz Luhrmann is entering the ring, putting his over-the-top ADHD spin on it. On a conceptual level this is pretty ambitious stuff: Jay Z produced the music, there are tons of weird anachronisms, the camera moves around so fast you'll get whiplash, and not to mention it's a romantic character drama shot in 3D. I personally did not catch this one in 3D, and because I'm behind on my movie-watching, I have also never seen a previous film by Luhrmann. Sorry, my fellow movie-goers, it's just one of my blindspots. But from what I hear they are similarly bombastic. Really I just wanted to watch this in the hope that maybe his revisionist take on the material would finally make The Great Gatsby relatable and/or bearable for me for the first time, and I also wanted to see Leo again because he is simply a dreamboat.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Dir. Shane Black
The Avengers, love it or loathe it, changed the landscape of superhero films. Warner Brothers is now trying to play catch-up with a Justice League film that has disaster written all over it and Disney has a chokehold on superhero properties as it gradually sucks up more and more famous comic book characters (Daredevil and Ghost Rider just passed on over to the House of Mouse). So now with The Avengers under their belt, that gives the company virtually unlimited directions to head in, and it will be interesting to see how some of these big ideas play out - especially with James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy. But to usher in the second chapter for Marvel Studios is the hero that started it all: Tony Stark. In his fourth big screen adventure, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is going solo again. After the events in New York (the whole wormhole opening up a rift in space thing), Stark is suffering from a little anxiety. Sure he has his girl, Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow), by his side and his partner, Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his back, but a new terrorist force, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), is causing a ruckus. Throw in a mentally unstable scientist (Guy Pearce) with a 10-year grudge against Tony, and the crock pot is fully stirred for action.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Hey people, Iron Man 3 was just officially released in my homeland of America, kicking off the summer season of over-budgeted mega-blockbusters to a great start (I'd say beating The Avengers at the international box office is a pretty big deal). So I thought it'd be fun to play the ol' guess the box office game that I've seen many bloggers participate in. I've never done it, so who knows what could happen? H'yuk!
Dir. Michael Bay
[WARNING: This is based on a true story, so spoilers for real life ahead]
Pain and Gain is based on a true story which was featured in a 1999 Miami New Times article recounting a group of criminal bodybuilders who kidnapped, extorted money, and tortured victims, two of whom ultimately received the death penalty. The film marks a return to roots for Michael Bay, who took a break from having giant robots punch each other in the Transformers series for a low budget action picture similar in expense to his directorial debut Bad Boys. The cast, including Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, took pay cuts to keep costs low for this "little," more character-driven piece. But never fear, it's still as bat shit insane as anything else Bay has produced.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Mud Review: A modern take on Huckleberry Finn with amazing performances and a surprising amount of heart
Dir. Jeff Nichols
MUD. Despite having a title that will put general audiences off, Mud is the third feature film from director Jeff Nichols, who continues his string of low budget, deliberately paced Southern dramas with this little number that got a lot of buzz coming out of the Cannes Film Festival. The eternally hunky Matthew McConaughey is also continuing his lucky streak from films like Magic Mike, Killer Joe, and Bernie with another incredible performance that I believe tops all those previous films. The plot follows these two boys, Ellis and Neckbone (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland), who find an odd man named Mud (McConaughey) hiding in the woods, living in a boat lodged up high in a tree. They develop a curious relationship with Mud and become friends. But bounty hunters are on the lookout for him because he killed a man - a man that beat his girl, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), while pregnant with a baby. So as you can imagine the stakes are high, and what envelops is a deeply layered, exciting coming-of-age tale that deals with love, family, and loyalty in a superbly acted and directed movie. So go see it!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Dir. Joseph Kosinski
I can't say that Joseph Kosinski's name is something that gives me hope going into a movie. Having directed the over-hyped TRON: Legacy, I wasn't exactly jumping up and down to see him cover the sci-fi genre again. However, the name that did jump out at me in the credits list was cinematographer Claudio Miranda, who just recently won the Academy Award for Life of Pi's beautiful camera work (and also came close with Benjamin Button in 2008). Plus, I still like Tom Cruise, and Ghost Protocol proved that he can still pull off great action. And there was a cool spaceship that looked like a sperm. So I still booked it to the theater to catch this one.